Dal & Rice (Varan Bhaat)

Learn how to make dal rice or varan bhaat or dal chawal in a pressure cooker. Don’t have a pressure cooker? Learn to cook rice to perfection without a cooker.


This is the first major step in our cooking journey. I have introduced you to basic ingredients in Indian cooking, varieties of pots & pans used and various cutting techniques. Now, it’s time to make one of the simplest go-to meals in many Indian homes – dal rice.

One of the staple foods in India is dal rice. Variously called dal chawal or varan bhaat, you can make it in a million different ways which I will cover in my subsequent pages. But in this tutorial, I will focus on basic steamed rice and dal cooked in a pressure cooker. Then I will show an easy way to cook rice without a cooker.

So how do we cook simple rice and a yellow dal in a pressure cooker and also without one?

Read my notes below or watch the video

Ingredients for Yellow Dal (Varan) & Rice

  • 1 cup tur dal / moong dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 1 cup rice 
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of  asafoetida / hinga
  • 6 cups white flour (sifted)
  • water

Dal is nothing but a type of lentils or pulses. There are many varieties of dal but today I will be making simple yellow dal. Yellow dal is made with tur dal or moong dal. Some people also mix the two. Today I’ll be sticking to only the tur dal.

Washing & Soaking & Add Water in the Dal

  • It’s very important to wash the dal as it’s covered with a thin powdered layer
  • Once its washed,you can soak the dal in water for 30 mins, this makes the dal cook faster

  • The exact water quantity is not so important in dal. You can always add more once the dal is cooked, but make sure you have added enough so that the dal is completely soaked in it, or else the dal will not cook. Soaking the dal is optional though.

Preparing the dal

  • In the soaked dal, add turmeric and hing or asafetida. Turmeric is very good for health and gives the dal a nice golden yellow colour, while hing masks the strong pungent aroma of the dal.
  • Node: do not add salt in the uncooked dal. The dal will require a very long time to cook. we will add salt once the dal is cooked

    Washing & Soaking Rice

    • Similar to dal, I am taking one cup of rice. There are thousands of rice varieties, today I am using basmati rice. Wash it thoroughly similar to how we washed dal. 
    • Once washed let’s add the water. One of the most important things about cooking rice is the water content. What you have to do is keep the rice in the vessel and pour in just enough water to even out the rice.
    • Check the rice level by marking your finger. Remember, different varieties of rice require slightly different water levels

    • As a rule of thumb, you need to add double the amount of water, now add water slowly and check the water level with your finger again

    Add Dal & Rice in Cooker

    • Keep the steamer plate:
      Place the flat plate steamer here like this, and pour water so that its completely submerged. There should always be water in there for steam to be generated and avoiding any accidents
    • Keep Dal & Rice: keep the dal inside first, it is kept at the bottom as it requires more heat than rice to cook, then stack the rice on top of the dal, cover it and close the cooker
    • Place the cooker on the gas.

    Cook Dal & Rice In pressure Cooker

    • Pressure Cooker:
      After some time when the steam starts coming out, you can place the whistle on top
    • Now, wait for 3-4 whistles.
    • once done, check if there is still quite a bit of steam and pressure inside the cooker still. We must wait for it to cool down completely.
    • Once the steme is cooled down, then is the time to open the lid of the pressure cooker. To best way to do this is to gently try to move the whistle. If it moves easily without any resistance, that’s when you know the steam is cooled down.

    Finish cooking the dal

    • Remember we have not added any salt to the day, so just pore the cooked dal in a vessel, and churn the dal, with a hand held churner like this or you can use a hand blender. 

    • Now place it on the gas, and add some water as per your linking of the consistency of the dal. Stir occasionally so that it does not stick and let it simmer.

    • Our simple dal or as we call it varan is ready and take it off the gas

    Cooking Non Sticky Rice without Pressure Cooker

    • Take some rice , wash it just like before and fill the vessel with water. Here the water quantity should be more as there is no steam to hasten the cooking process.

    • lets place it on the gas & Keep a lid on top and make sure there is an opening there to let the steam escape or else your rice will spill over.
    • Wait for about 10 – 15 mins and check. The rice grains seem to be almost cooked. Cover this up and switch off the gas. Keep them covered for 4-5 mins, the rice will be cooked completely in the steam trapped within the lid.

    • We will drain the remaining water now, you can also wash with more water so that the excess starch washes away and you get a good fluffy non-sticky rice.

    boil the rice

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    Hi I am Akshay

    I am a Software Engineer by profession but a foodie at heart. I am in love with food! I enjoy the explosion of flavours on my taste buds and am always ready to try different cuisines. One of my fondest memories as a child is sitting on the kitchen counter, watching my mother cook. But as I travelled for work, I missed the tastes of home.
    And that was the birth of Simply Simple Cooking YouTube Channel & later this blog.

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